It’s all but dark. The faintest of faint lights glimmers from the overhead bulb, turned as low as the dimmer will let it, and from downstairs a domestic twilight filters up the stairs, along with snatches of tv and the occasional chuckle from H.
I’m sat in Elma’s nursery, in the rocker at the end of her bed, one knee slightly bent to support the weight of the little girl curled up in my lap. A snuggly bundle of slightly damp hair and well worn cotton pyjamas all wrapped up in her sleeping bag.
And we sit, and rock gently back and forth and she nurses and settles herself for sleep.
Some nights she’s asleep in moments, toppling into dreams mid feed, relaxing into that sleepy floppiness that’s the signal for me to oh so gently snuggle her down in her cot and creep out of the door, and some nights it takes, well, longer.
Nursing, and rocking, and singing and cuddling and kissing, checking that there’s nothing going on to make her uncomfy; sitting with an oh so sleepy little girl curled up against one arm while I rub her back, around and around in big circles until either the rhythm or the soft sound of rustling sleeping bag lulls her as far as snoozy.
Sometimes she’ll lie in my arms, just sucking her thumb, confident in the security of her cuddles, looking up at me steadily until slowly, oh so slowly, those eyelids start to droop, and she blinks, once, twice, and sleeps.
There are certainly times when I wonder whether she’s ever going to fall asleep, when the washing up stacked up in the kitchen starts to taunt me as the minutes click round, and my own bedtime gets nearer, but in my heart of hearts I know that the washing up can wait, that this is special time. Because the little girl who was my tiny baby is growing rapidly, shooting up as fast as ever she can; on the cusp of walking, adding more sounds to her vocabulary every day, and wonderfully determined in making her opinions known.
This is my here and now, and as with just about every other aspect of parenting, I can choose to wish it away, or I can choose to embrace it, to love it for what it is, and to know that these moments will not come again.
Some day she’ll be snuggling down all by herself like her big sister; no longer reliant on the comfort of having a parent close at hand, but secure in her certainty that we’re there whenever she needs us. And so for now it’s a time to treasure, however frustrating it can be in the day to day reality.